Faced with increasing competition from railways running to South African and, shortly, Angolan ports the Tanzania-Zambia (TAZARA) railway plans to become leaner and meaner, wrote Adam Lusekelo in the BBC’S FOCUS ON AFRICA (July-Sept.). Freight volume has gone down from more than a million metric tonnes in 1992/93 to 642,270 metric tonnes last year. Some 2,500 out of 6,600 jobs will be axed; entire directorates have been merged or scrapped outright. Regional General Manager Hamisi Tegissa was quoted as saying that, from now on, TAZARA will have to do business or it will sink.

The May issue of BRITISH OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT contained a four-page ‘Country File’ on Tanzania suitable for the British National Curriculum Geography key stages three and four. There were short articles on roads, railways, cashew nuts, cloves, family life, health and the elections. Tanzania was said to be four times the size of Britain but with half the population.

The SUN in huge front page headlines has been following the fortunes of Tanzanian-born Mukhtar Mohidin with intense interest since he won £18 million on the British National Lottery and thus changed his life for ever. In the issue dated May 13 his wife was said to be insisting on a written agreement from her husband spelling out her share of the massive win. In another issue (May 12) the SUN reported that at a reunion for relatives there was such an angry squabble about who was entitled to a share of the money that the Thames Valley Police had to be brought in and detained two men until they had calmed down.

This was the question posed by the glossy Kenya publication THE OPTION – THE MAGAZINE FOR PRINCIPLED LEADERSHIP (April 1995). The article traced the history of the Union and gave reasons why it was ‘under question as politicians square up to multi-party elections’. Calls for Zanzibari autonomy could be a popular electoral card for mainland and island po1iticians …. ‘the decision to move the administrative capital from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma had only alienated the island … ‘

‘At the soon-to-be-gazetted Mafia Island Marine Park I went diving on the most incredible reefs I have ever seen, an adventure, a dazzling picture show and a science lesson all rolled into one’. So wrote Anne Outwater in the EAST AFRICAN (May 15-21) who went on to say that she had also never seen bommies before. They are big pieces of Proties coral that long ago fastened themselves on to something like a clam shell in the sand and then grew, sometimes to a height of 12 feet and a width of 8 feet. ‘Other corals are then able to fasten themselves and grow. Thus an entire community is formed …. ‘

The first African South African Air Force jet pilot to go solo, Captain Tsoku Khuma10, celebrated his historic feat in time-honoured style by being dunked by his colleagues in a mud bath. Khuma10 spent nine years out of South Africa with Umkhonto we Sizwe after training in Angola. He completed the first part of his education in Tanzania – JOHANNESBURG STAR

Under this heading PEOPLE AND THE PLANET (Vol. 2 No 4) recalled that Lake victoria was ‘discovered’ in 1858 by John Speke, after months of braving dense forests and tropical diseases in his search for the source of the Nile. But now, the illustrated article by Nancy Chege goes on, ‘The once clear life-filled lake is now murky, smelly and choking with algae … for decades, ecologists have travelled to Lake Victoria to study cichlids, small indigenous bony fish which made up 80% of the biomass composition of the Lake. Some 400 species had evolved from five species of ancestors, making Lake victoria one of the most species-diverse lakes in the world. But now there are only 200 species thanks to the depredations of the Nile Perch which has jumped in 15 years to 80% of fish weight in the Lake … one specialist has described this as the greatest vertebrate mass extinction in recorded history. But the Nile Perch has become a money spinner and is being exported all over the world.

So said a spokesman for London Zoo quoted in the DAILY TELEGRAPH (August 8) describing the dash for freedom of a rare African female bush baby – the first to have been kept in captivity in Britain – which had been brought to London in February from a Tanzanian forest. The three-inch tall creature leapt out of its metal cage and slipped through a crack in its open door. Keepers armed with nets and torches had spent 11 days crawling behind the pen in an effort to find it.


JOHANNESBURG STAR writer Duncan Guy, out in a canoe with Tanzanian fishermen on Lake Tanganyika in the middle of the night, gulped when he heard the news. “We all (Tanzanian and Burundian fishermen) fish where the catches are best …. ” he was told … “sometimes we go so far that we have to stay in Burundi during the day. And the Burundians come down to our village if that’s where the fish are”. The writer described how the boats and their attachments creek in the gentle swell and just below the surface the fish shine like silver as they enter the light from hurricane lamps in the canoes …..

In an article on tuberculosis in a recent issue of NEW AFRICA it was stated that, besides China and New York, Tanzania’s anti-tuberculosis campaign was the major success story on WHO’s books. It was estimated that 80% of all TB cases in Tanzania had been found, 90% had been treated and 80% of the infectious cases had been cured. But TB was still the second most important killer in Dar es Salaam.


Frederick Courtney Selous (born 1851) was the subject of an illustrated article in the JOHANNESBURG STAR INTERNATIONAL (July 20). Why was the Selous Game Reserve so special it asked; it was expensive, inaccessible and only modestly promoted. The answer was probably the legend surrounding the area and the mystique of the man whose name it bore …. the greatest white hunter of them all. As a boy he idolised his hero David Livingstone. For 20 years he was hunter (he shot 31 lions), safari guide, skin exporter, gold prospector, ostrich farmer, naturalist, ornithologist. He fought in the war against the Germans in Tanganyika and was killed by a bullet to the head on January 4, 1917 and was buried by his men in a modest grave in what was later to become the Selous Game Reserve.

The AFRICAN PUBLISHING REVIEW discussed in its May/June 1995 issue problems of book publishing in several countries including Tanzania. The biggest constraint on marketing and distribution of books was the absence of sales outlets; of the 104 districts in Tanzania 85 do not have bookshops as a result of the government’s old policy of the confinement of sale of educational books to Tanzania Elimu supplies and the free education policy so that parents feel cheated if they have to buy books. (Thank you Pru Watts-Russell for this item – Ed.).

Peter Fairy writing in the WEEKEND TELEGRAPH (July 22) suggested that Britons visiting Tanzania should beware of two swindles they might encounter if they fly into Kilimanjaro airport. ‘You might be asked to produce a certificate of vaccination against yellow fever although this is only mandatory if you are coming from a country (including Kenya) where the disease is endemic’ he wrote. A woman passenger had been told that she would have to be injected on the spot “although there is another solution”!

The second dodge occurred on departure. ‘When I was bodysearched the security officer found TShs 6,000 (£6.85) in my shirt pocket’ he wrote. “You are not allowed to take Tanzanian money out of the country. You must change it at a bank”. The nearest one was 30 miles away and it was 8 pm. I demanded to see his superior – at which point I was waved through …..

FIFA published recently its rankings of 175 world football teams. Tanzania has improved its position from 80th in 1993 to 74th in 1994. Brazil was number one with England 18th, Scotland 32nd, Wales 42nd, and Northern Ireland 45th.

But, sadly, as the EAST AFRICAN explained, apart from a late comeback by the national soccer team which grabbed the Challenge Cup Tournament in Nairobi (and the cricketers victory in the East and Central African competition at home) most Tanzanian teams were a flop on the international scene in 1994. Mbwana Matumla was praised for giving Tanzania its only medal (bronze) at the Commonwealth Games in Canada.

The London TIMES published a letter from Mr Jack Storer who had been in Dar es Salaam reviewing the work of the Tanzania Institute of Bankers at the time when a consignment of 1,100 textbooks funded by ODA arrived. ‘I shall long remember’ he wrote, ‘the excitement and joy of the librarian and her colleagues …. before I left two weeks later more than 100 members of the Institute had been in to borrow books’. Mr Storer praised the superb job being done by the British Council in Dar es Salaam and its ‘always busy’ library. (Thank you Christine Lawrence for this item – Ed.)

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